The iconic Dohány Street Synagogue — with its unmistakable twin onion domes towering above — is at the epicenter of Budapest’s Jewish culinary scene. A handful of kosher restaurants and casual eateries are sprinkled throughout the historic Jewish neighborhood of Erzsébetváros, where Pest’s Jews first settled in the late 18th Century on the eastern side of the Danube River. (The separate cities of Buda and Pest merged in 1873 to form Budapest.)
The lasting Jewish presence is itself something of a miracle. Nazis and Hungarian fascists turned the district into a ghetto with walls running along Dohány, Kertész, Király, and Rumbach streets. Although most residents left en masse following the war and during the communist era, the three synagogues known as the “synagogue triangle” remain. Since then, there’s been an influx of shops, bars, cafés and restaurants.
Most of the city’s religious Jews continue to live within the former ghetto. But touches of Old World secular Jewish cuisine and even New York-inspired delis can be found elsewhere in the city.
Discreetly hidden in plain sight a block away from the city’s main train station, Rosenstein is a bucket list destination for Jewish foodies. The menu offers a snapshot into traditional Hungarian-Jewish cuisine including offal dishes like calf lung stew alongside more celebrated favorites, such as matzah ball soup and flodni. If you’re lucky you might run into the eponymous patriarch Tibor Rosenstein himself. Despite nearing 80 years old, Tibor is still busy in the kitchen. That is, when he doesn’t have his arm around celebrity visitors like Robert DeNiro and Helen Mirren.
Address: Budapest, Mosonyi u. 3, 1087 Hungary
While Attila Nemesvölgyi isn’t Jewish, he finds it important to help tell the story of the historic middle-class Jewish neighborhood where his businesses are located. Babka Deli‘s menu blends classic New York Jewish deli culture and flavors with Israeli mezze, while also bringing the bright aesthetic of Russ & Daughters (a souvenir tote bag hangs on the wall) to the deli’s space. If you are craving something sweet, make sure to try the Ottolenghi-inspired babka with chocolate, walnuts, and orange blossom syrup. Just up the street is Attila’s other restaurant, called Babka Restaurant, which serves more straightforward Middle Eastern fare.
Address: Budapest, Pozsonyi út 20, 1137 Hungary
There’s a rustic greenhouse vibe to Mazel Tov, specifically its garden covered with planted herbs and trees. It certainly sticks out from the familial and kosher establishments featured elsewhere on this list.
Mazel Tov leans more heavily in the Israeli direction with its hummus bowl, pita sandwiches and slow roasted lamb served with shakshuka cream. But there’s an Ashkenazi nod with pastrami from their Israeli fusion kitchen, along with their 14-day aged smoked brisket, made with homemade yellow mustard, pickled cucumber and Middle Eastern barbecue sauce.
Address: Budapest, Akácfa u. 47, 1072 Hungary
The Hungarian Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community manages the Carmel restaurant with a mashgiach always present to ensure Jewish dietary laws are maintained. Carmel is at its liveliest during Shabbat dinner and lunch, featuring prepaid meals of about €25 per person. Orthodox Jews from both Sephardic and Ashkenazi traditions join together for a mix of Middle Eastern and Ashkenazi dishes, such as gefilte fish and cholent alongside matbucha, hummus and eggplant.
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 31, 1075 Hungary
Kosher Deli Budapest
Kosher Deli Budapest is, well, a kosher deli in Budapest. The simply named establishment comes with a surprisingly diverse menu that covers all appetites along with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start the day with French toast, get a bowl of bean goulash soup to warm up for lunch, and finish the day with pizza, pasta or one of their wood-fired dishes, like cholent, shakshuka or grilled salmon. If you’ve got room for more, satiate that sweet tooth with some homemade Hungarian somloi trifle or one of their showcased cakes.
Address: Budapest, Síp u. 12, 1075 Hungary
There’s a cozy, Old World feeling to Spinoza. The austere chairs and tabletops with comfortable plush seating offers nostalgic tones of eating at your grandmother’s, though not nearly as eccentric. The menu features familiar Ashkenazi favorites from cholent with beef casserole to barley, chickpeas and the ever-popular Israeli shakshuka. On of the unique draw of Spinoza is their events. Check out their website for upcoming programming like klezmer dinners complete with a customized menu for the evening.
Address: Budapest, Dob utca 15, 1074 Hungary
Hanna Orthodox Kosher Restaurant
As you might have guessed from the name, Hanna’s is a glatt kosher establishment. The Hungarian Autonomous Orthodox Jewish Community operates the restaurant featuring classic Ashkenazi fare, such as matzah ball soup and “Jewish” egg salad with chopped egg mixed with onions, goose liver and goose schmaltz. Shabbat dinner features a set four-course meal with complimentary challah and Kiddush wine. You’ll need to prepay €20 before 2:00 p.m. on Friday to join in the festivities.
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 29, 1074 Hungary
After weathering the pandemic blow, Macesz Bistro reopened in the Old Jewish neighborhood in the spring of 2022. Macesz bills itself as an Eastern European bistro with a focus on Hungarian and Jewish cuisine “reimagined” by chef Ákos Tasnádi. Dishes like vegetarian matzah lasagne, cholent and veal paprikash are presented with the flare of a professional food stylist preparing for a cookbook photoshoot.
Address: Budapest, Síp u. 12, 1075 Hungary
Keeping kosher in a hurry? Kosher MeatUp holds the distinguishing marker of Budapest’s first (and only) fast food kosher establishment. Founders and owners László Györfi and Tamas Kepecs saw an opportunity to offer something quick and affordable given the sit-down experience and higher price point of nearby Hanna and Carmel.
Even the menu at Kosher MeatUp is quick and to the point. Options include a hamburger, shawarma or schnitzel. For sides, guests can pick from soup, fries or a salad.
Address: Budapest, Síp u. 5, 1075 Hungary